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Celtic Traditions: Litha

Our Scottish ancestry is rich in Celtic traditions

The Celts follow an Earth based seasonal wheel. The Celtic year is divided into two halves, the dark beginning with Samhain and the light beginning with Beltane. In between these are Imbolc and Lughnasadh/Lammas. These key points of the Celtic year were recognized as doorways, when the veil between the worlds are thinnest.

These quarters are further divided by the solstices and equinoxes:  Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, and Autumn Equinox. These were referred to as the Albans.

We’re all familiar with the solstices as they are noted as the longest (summer) and shortest (winter) days of the year. The word is derived from the Latin sol meaning sun and sistere meaning to stand still.

Equinoxes also occur twice a year, when day and night are equal lengths. In fact, the word is derived from the Latin aequus meaning equal and nox meaning night.

Today is Litha (pronounced LEE-tha)

Here we are, at the peak of the Solar year. Litha (mid-summer) is the summer solstice, astronomically the longest day of the year, and falls between June 21st and 22nd.

The Goddess is pregnant with Child and the Sun God is at the height of His virility. This is a time to celebrate achievements, embrace the abundance of the Earth, and experience the joys of fertility.

Fire represents the sun, a constant and daily reminder of the power of the God. In ancient times, Celts would light balefires on hills and sacred places from sunset the night before Midsummer until the sunset of the following day. They would stay up all night, dancing around or leaping through the fires, to welcome the sunrise. Afterwards, the coals would be scattered in the fields to ensure a good harvest.

Today, especially if a cloudy or rainy day, a candle should be lit for the entire day.

Litha was the time to formalize handfastings, couples together for a year and a day, from the previous Beltane. A time to renew wedding vows.

Decorate your home with dried herbs, potpourri, seashells, summer flowers, and fruits. Scents to include are sage, mint, basil, Saint John’s Wort, sunflower, lavender.

How about giving one of these a try?

  • Build a sundial
  • Make Lavender Syrup (here’s one such recipe:  Lavender Simple Syrup)
  • Wildcrafting in the woods (grab a book or pamphlet on local edible herbs and berries you can forage)
  • Hit the beach (gather shells, bits of driftwood, or other interesting goodies you can use for magic)
  • Litha is all about the sunny weather – get outside and enjoy it!

May your joys be contagious to others today and always!

Sherri Siggy

TODAY IN HISTORY: William and Jessie Wedding

1901 Wedding Pic William John and Jessie Gray (Beattie) Watson EDINBURGHWilliam  John Watson (Factory Worker), 30 years of age, married 25 year-old Jessie Gray Beattie (Domestic Servant) on May 2, 1902 at 60 West Holmes Street Gardens, Mussellburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland. His pre-wedding address was 8 Dewar Place in Edinburgh, while hers was 36 Melville Street. In a romantic gesture, they named their only son Melville, remembering where Willie would go to meet his beloved Jessie when she had time off from work.

This is their wedding photo at left.

1902 Marriage Register WIlliam John Watson and Jessie Gray Beattie MUSSELBURG

Celtic Traditions: Beltane

Our Scottish ancestry is rich in Celtic traditions

The Celts follow an Earth based seasonal wheel. The Celtic year is divided into two halves, the dark beginning with Samhain and the light beginning with Beltane. In between these are Imbolc and Lughnasadh/Lammas. These key points of the Celtic year were recognized as doorways, when the veil between the worlds are thinnest.

These quarters are further divided by the solstices and equinoxes:  Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, and Autumn Equinox. These were referred to as the Albans.

We’re all familiar with the solstices as they are noted as the longest (summer) and shortest (winter) days of the year. The word is derived from the Latin sol meaning sun and sistere meaning to stand still.

Equinoxes also occur twice a year, when day and night are equal lengths. In fact, the word is derived from the Latin aequus meaning equal and nox meaning night.

Today is Beltane (generally pronounced BELL-tane though the Gaelic is bee-YAWL-tinnuh)

Beltane is counter to Samhain. Beltane is a cross quarter day between Ostara and Litha falling on May 1st but like other Celtic festivals it is celebrated on its eve, April 30th.

Celebrating the triumph of summer over winter, Beltane rejoices in the union, both that of the Goddess and the God as well as that between man and woman. Celebrating fertility and sexuality. Beltane is a season of maturing life and deep love, a time of vow and commitments. Handfastings were common at Beltane.

For Celts, Beltane is a joyous festival that marks the time of beginnings in Celtic myth and legend and the arrival of faeries.

New fires are created from the power of fire within wood, such as a well-seasoned oak: The fire, termed tein-eigan: a forced- or need-fire, is elicited by means of turning a wimble in a socket or an axle-tree in a hole, creating fire through friction, and the first sparks are caught in kindling and the new fire, like that of the new summer, would be born: The old year fires are extinguished as a preamble and embers of the new fire would be brought into the homes to rekindle the hearth (Frazer, J. 1890, 1922).

Decorate your home with a Maypole, flowers, and ribbons. Scents to include are lilac and frankincense.

Give it a try —
  • Stoke a “bonfire” — candles, a fireplace, an outdoor fire pit, anything you have on hand will do.
  • Attend a May Day celebration.
  • Dance wildly.
  • Spring has sprung…get outside and enjoy nature.
  • Make a faerie offering.
  • Engage in a pleasure ritual.

A blessed Beltane to you all ~ 

Sherri Siggy

TODAY IN HISTORY: George and Grace’s Wedding

1909 George, Grace and Grace Fowlie STOUGHTONGeorge Patterson Ronald Taylor Fowlie and Grace Victoria Louise Ronald were married on April 19, 1907 in what was then called New Hope, Northwest Territories but soon became Stoughton, Saskatchewan. We have no marriage photo (yet?) for them but this photo taken in 1909, with my mother Elizabeth Grace Victoria just a babe in arms, is the closest thing to it.

Grace Ronald’s brother Roderick was homesteading in the Gap View and Grace came for a visit, at which time she met George, and ended up spending the rest of her life there.

George and Grace apparently had a child John in 1908 who didn’t survive. That meant Grace was the eldest of their 9 children: Grace, George (Geordie), Bill, Lily, WInnie, Ruby, Gordon, Isobel and Joy.

Linda's Siggy

Celtic Traditions: Ostara

Our Scottish ancestry is rich in Celtic traditions

The Celts follow an Earth based seasonal wheel. The Celtic year is divided into two halves, the dark beginning with Samhain and the light beginning with Beltane. In between these are Imbolc and Lughnasadh/Lammas. These key points of the Celtic year were recognized as doorways, when the veil between the worlds are thinnest.

These quarters are further divided by the solstices and equinoxes:  Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, and Autumn Equinox. These were referred to as the Albans.

We’re all familiar with the solstices as they are noted as the longest (summer) and shortest (winter) days of the year. The word is derived from the Latin sol meaning sun and sistere meaning to stand still.

Equinoxes also occur twice a year, when day and night are equal lengths. In fact, the word is derived from the Latin aequus meaning equal and nox meaning night.


ostara_by_johannes_gehrtsToday is Ostara (pronouced OH-star-ah)

Ostara, or Ēostre, is the spring equinox falling between March 19th to March 22nd (this is the day the Christians borrowed to be their Easter). It’s a day of equilibrium – neither harsh winter nor merciless summer – a day where daylight and night are the same length.

During Imbolc the Goddess became the Maiden. Ostara represents the Maiden, in her sacred marriage, conceiving. Ēostre is the Saxon Goddess of fertility (and apparently where the word estrogen comes from) thus the egg and its promise of new life. The hare is the animal totem of a number of lunar Goddesses, Ēostre being one of them (now those bunnies at Easter make a bit more sense).

Traditionally, this is a time to free yourself from things that hinder your progress. Embrace your inner child.

Decorate your home with colored eggs, hares (rabbits), and yellow spring flowers. Scents to include are rose and jasmine.

Some activities to try:

  • If you still have snow on the ground, scoop some up and melt it in an End of Winter ritual.
  • Plant some flowers.
  • Prep and plan your vegetable garden.
  • We’re still a few weeks away from Easter, but why not recreate some fond memories from your childhood.

Sherri Siggy